To date, the trust has received 40,000 claims questionnaires representing over 70,000 claimants and about 250,000 individual claims. Roughly 27 million pages of materials have been received by the claims administrator and are being reviewed so that the circumstances of each claim can be fully evaluated.
The damage categories eligible for payment include claims for wrongful death, personal injury, real property (including forestry and landscaping), personal property, personal or business income loss, out-of-pocket expenses, and emotional distress. Because each of the claims involves unique circumstances, every claim must be individually assessed and valued by a reviewer. The entire claim — including each of the damage categories claimed, and offsets relating to, for example, insurance coverage, FEMA payments, Wildfire Assistance Program payments — must be reviewed, approved, and finalized before any notice of determination can be sent.
This has been a monumental undertaking by the trust, and it is only now starting to release initial payments. To date, the trust has issued about 7,364 preliminary payments and continues to issue them on a rolling basis. In addition, the trust has started to distribute the first round of pro rata payments toward satisfying the claims of individuals, families, and businesses that suffered losses in the 2015 Butte Fire, 2017 North Bay Fires, and 2018 Camp Fire. The initial pro rata payment is 30% of the total approved and accepted claim amount. As of about two weeks ago, the trust had issued only 183 pro rata payments. The trust will continue to issue payment notices on a daily basis and release payments on the 15th and last day of the month.
The trust will continue making payments on all claims that are fully submitted, reviewed, and eligible. The trust has 130 staff members dedicated to claims review. Additional staff and managers overseeing the claims review process are being hired to complete the claims review process. While the trust’s effort is progressing slower than expected, it anticipates that as more supporting documents are provided, a greater number of claims will be completed, allowing them to be reviewed and more payments to be made.
At Kershaw Talley Barlow, we are working hard to advocate for you and assist you through the claims process. The sad truth is that the Camp/Santa Rosa/Sonoma/Napa County fires likely could have been prevented had PG&E taken better care of its infrastructure. You deserve compensation if PG&E’s negligence caused you harm; our trial lawyers are here to fight for you.
Contact Kershaw Talley Barlow online or give us a call at (916) 520-6639 to schedule your free consultation.